Monday, February 11, 2008

News Briefs - February 11, 2008

Polaroid has announced that they are completely getting out of the (instant) film business by the end of this year and will concentrate on television and digital photography technologies. This is a sad day for all the photographer/artists that used Polaroid materials to such good ends for so many decades. Gone will be all the square little SX-70 pictures. Gone will be all the cool and unique image and emulsion transfer prints. Gone will be the black-and-white images with the distinctive edges, such as Mark Klett’s. While their decision is understandable from a business sense, they will be missed.

Trading on the enduring reputation of Swiss bank accounts for security and discretion, the Swiss Picture Bank is now offering the first online, guaranteed permanent digital archive. Their catchy motto is: “Safe. Forever.TM” Since most digital photographers are a hard drive crash away from losing most or all of their images, this could be seen as a valuable resource. The costs start out at a reasonable one-time charge of $.03 an image for 30 years of storage. Seems like a good idea to me.

This last item is not photo related, but I found out today that actor Roy Scheider died this past weekend from complications of cancer. He was 75 years old. His notable film roles include The French Connection, Sorcerer, 2010, Marathon Man, All That Jazz, and, of course, Jaws. He always brought a genuine sense of the everyman to his characters and carried himself with dignity and gravitas. Every movie that he was in benefited from his presence. I’m sorry to see him go.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

PMA 2008 News

Well, the PMA show (Photographic Marketing Association) came and went last week and there were a few noteworthy items that showed up. Canon has a new digital Rebel, the Rebel XSi. It now has a 12-mp sensor, Live View (sort of like what point & shoot cameras have), and uses SD cards instead of CompactFlash cards. The expected replacement for the 5D wasn’t shown, but since this is a Photokina (that’s the big European trade show) year, it might show up in the Fall. Nikon has a few new lenses: a AF-S 60mm f/2.8G Micro lens and a PC-E 24mm f/2.8D tilt-shift lens. From Casio, not exactly a leader in digital cameras, comes the Pro EX-F1, which looks like a small SLR and has the astounding shoot rate of 60 frames per second at full 6-mp resolution. I guess you better have a big memory card for this camera. I’m not really sure what this will be good for (motion studies? scientific research?), but that’s truly amazing performance.

Fuji showed a good camera for people who want D-SLR performance, but don’t want to change lenses: the S100FS. It has a wide-range image-stabilized lens, equivalent to a 28-400mm 35mm lens, and has an 11-mp sensor. If you want high performance and only one camera, you might take a look at this one.

Perhaps the most curious camera shown was a unnamed prototype also from Fuji: a folding 6x7 medium format film camera with Aperture Priority automatic exposure. Since they discontinued all their medium format cameras a few years ago, this was a surprise to say the least. Still for the film fans out there, this will probably be a great camera to shoot with—small, portable, and with a tack sharp lens on it. Some of my favorite and most used view camera lenses were made by Fuji. You can see a photo of this new camera here. It’s kind of pretty, in a nostalgic sort of way.